Vista Excessive Disk Activity

Discussion in 'Windows Vista Performance' started by rbd, May 24, 2008.

  1. rbd

    rbd Guest

    For the past few weeks I have been attempting to create a Vista Home
    Premium configuration on a new Core 2 Duo PC. I though that I had
    finally created a stable config with all the proper hardware drivers and
    many of my apps. I then noticed that the disk activity light was on
    solid - and I couldn't figure out why.

    I ran a number of process tools, the only one that seemed to provide
    useful information being Perfmon. Perfmon showed two distinct types of
    disk activity.

    The first, was causing the disk activity light to stay on solid, and was
    caused by the reading of files on my D: data disk. I found that by
    stopping/starting the SysMain Superfetch service I can turn off/turn on
    this constant disk read activity. It appears that Superfetch looks
    through previously opened user data files - even if they were used only
    once, are 4+GB in size, and may never be used again from within VISTA.
    It is beyond my comprehension what possible good this type of activity
    would do me, or any other VISTA user. After I get to the point where
    I've installed Lightroom/Photoshop/Picasa/PaperPort and other apps that
    routinely access and/or index GB of user files - will access to my D:
    drive ever stop? Why would Superfetch bother with non-executable data
    files on a non-system partition? After reading the MS VISTA Kernel
    description I know that turning off SuperFetch will impact certain VISTA
    features - so what?.

    Second issue: I noticed a secondary disk activity that consists of
    continuous writes to various files on C: that occur at the rate of a few
    each second. Again, I attempted to isolate that IO activity with
    Perfmon, including noting the PIDs and then attempting to stop the
    Applications with that PID - with no success.

    In an attempt to further diagnose the issues, I restored a C: partition
    backup for the first OOTB Vista configuration (no updates, drivers, apps
    installed). The steady drone of repeated disk writes to C: also occurs
    in that base build. The disk writes involves areas such as:

    files lastalive0.dat and lastalive1.dat
    from svchost LocalSystemNetworkRestricted.

    c:\$Logfile (NTFS Volume Log)
    from System

    This is my only Vista system, so I have none other to compare it to.

    I've turned off Indexing, turned off Defender, uninstalled AVG, turned
    off disk defrags, and disabled all items in the Scheduler - the C: disk
    activity goes on.

    I find all this disk IO activity unwanted, distracting, and possibly
    damaging to disk drive health in the long term. I don't understand why
    this type of activity should be necessary for a single-user desktop PC
    and why it is so darned difficult to determine what is causing it.

    I'd appreciate any assistance in explaining what this constant disk C:
    write activity might be, what other diagnostic tools I could use to
    isolate the causes, and how to stop it (other than to install WINXP or
    buy a Mac).
    rbd, May 24, 2008
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  2. rbd

    Mick Murphy Guest

    Have you tried right-clicking on the Task Bar, and bringing up Task Manager
    to see what is going on?
    Mick Murphy, May 24, 2008
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  3. rbd

    Frank G Guest

    I am having this exact same issue. I went thru and stopped a bunch of
    services that were running and the disk activity stopped, however, it caused
    my media center to start acting up and doing funny things. (i use the My
    Movies add-in w/it).

    anyway else figure this out ?
    Frank G, May 24, 2008
  4. rbd

    Pat M Guest

    I have been having exactly the same problem, shutting off internet access
    does not affect it at all. I cannot get enough info out of task manager to
    determine what is causing the hard drive to run continuously. I have enough
    security items running that I am sure there's no bot or virus running on my
    computer. One thing I have noticed is that when I allow Windows to update
    itself this problem magnifies at least tenfold slowing my system down
    immensely. With the issues I've had with this computer and software
    manufacturers passing the buck my next system will be a Mac.
    Pat M, May 24, 2008
  5. rbd

    Charlie Tame Guest

    You could try right clicking on the dis drive icon and in properties
    turn off "Index this drive..." whatever. Seems like that made a
    difference fo me, and since I rarely use "Search" functions the indexing
    time is just wasted.
    Charlie Tame, May 25, 2008
  6. rbd

    SG Guest

    SG, May 25, 2008
  7. rbd

    ronnie Guest

    Atleast I am not alone, on this. I also found the virus program, spy
    program, etc doesn't matter if they are off. The problem still happens.
    Although common sense says this, it can't be left out. The drive can't be
    scanned for errors. You get a "drive can't be scanned when in use." Right now
    the accessing has been giong on for almost a week. The version used is vista
    basic. With posting what they are microsoft may need to look into this. Even
    indexing is off.
    ronnie, May 26, 2008
  8. rbd

    Ursa Guest

    Just wanted to let you know I'm having the same problems. Nothing gets
    me so totally mad as when the hard drive is going crazy. I intensely
    hope that it is not a virus spreading around the drive :(

    For the record, I've turned off:
    *superfetch (from services.msc)
    Ursa, May 26, 2008
  9. rbd

    Rick Rogers Guest


    More likely excessive paging, and disabling superfetch only makes it worse.
    Rick Rogers, May 26, 2008
  10. rbd

    Ursa Guest

    Forgot to mention that I've turned off my paging file too :( found th
    superfetch tip in another forum. But I'll turn that one back on
    Ursa, May 26, 2008
  11. rbd

    Rick Rogers Guest

    Bad tip, as is disabling the paging file (unless of course you like 'out of
    memory' errors and slow performance).
    Rick Rogers, May 26, 2008
  12. rbd

    Charlie Tame Guest

    Well there is one thing a lot of us forget.

    Most of us have more than one computer and therefore have a router.
    Routers generally have a firewall. If we do nothing it tends to protect us.

    If no router is present then you need to look to see if your drive
    activity is because the computer is somehow compromised. Yes Vista
    (Allegedly) has a "Firewall" but despite MS' best efforts if Vista is
    compromised then the Vista firewall also is vulnerable.
    Charlie Tame, May 26, 2008
  13. rbd

    rbd Guest

    Rick - thank you for your reply.

    Definitely not excessive paging - just read activity to very specific
    data files and write activity to very specific VISTA files.

    I'll gladly turn Superfetch back on if anyone tell me how to keep it
    from reading through every data file that I've ever opened - including
    5+GB data and backup files. So far, disabling Superfetch has only made
    things much better. (Unless Perfmon and my disk activity light are lying.)
    rbd, May 27, 2008
  14. rbd

    Ursa Guest

    whoa.... actually I had 1 user connected to my computer when I disable
    my shared folders. I thought I was safe since I live out in the countr
    (and no other houses in the vicinity) but I guess the internet makes u
    all unsafe :

    Hope this helps.... this crazy disk is making me crazy too
    Ursa, May 29, 2008
  15. rbd

    vistaHead Guest

    I too am new to Vista and was having the same problems as above. I don't
    know exactly what the service "SERVER" is for, but, i can tell you that
    when i disabled that service and rebooted, all the excessive disk read
    problems i had disappeared and my boot and shutdown times became
    lightning fast.
    vistaHead, Jul 15, 2008
  16. rbd

    Kent_Diego Guest

    I too am new to Vista and was having the same problems as above. I don't
    It looks like service SERVER is important.
    Kent_Diego, Jul 20, 2008
  17. rbd

    clayga Guest

    I'm seeing this too. I noticed it after I set Power Options-Advanced
    Settings- Hard Disk-Turn Off Hard Disk After to 5 minutes on a new laptop and
    found that the hard disk keeps running indefinitely. Reliability and
    Performance monitor shows that six files, including C:\$Logfile and C:\$Mft,
    get written to every few seconds like a heartbeat, even when the system is
    fully idle. I searched the web and found only one forum thread that has
    relevant information:

    The last entry by Shyster1 is the most informative, but still doesn't
    explain why the "heartbeat" writes are necessary.

    This behavior raises some questions:

    1) Does forcing the system drive to run constantly make sense from a system
    responsiveness/performance point of view? In other words, would the user be
    annoyed by having to wait for the system drive to spin up every now and again?

    2) Does it make sense to display the "Turn off Hard Disk After" power option
    in systems that have only one (system) drive? Does this feature affect
    external USB drives for instance? If it only applies to internal hard
    drives, then it shouldn't show if a system has only one drive.

    3) If the "Turn off Hard Disk After" power option actually worked for the
    system drive, would Vista be significantly more energy efficient than it is?
    Since hard drives draw a fair amount of power, I'm guessing the answer is
    yes. There's an obvious trade off here between energy efficiency and
    usability (i.e. #1 above), but perhaps users should be allowed to decide what
    is best for them.
    clayga, Jul 21, 2008
  18. rbd

    l-o-g-o Guest

    With increasing CPU speed and multiple kernels the disk has become th
    real bottleneck. It is strange Microsoft engineers does not acknowledg
    this and make system software that minimize diskusage!

    I found turning off indexing and Superfetch/ReadyBoost made my hardis
    calm just within a few seconds after boot and thats great.

    The cyclic writes to C:\$LogFile(NTFS Volume log), C:\$Mft(NTFS...) an
    logfiles in C:\Windows\System32\config directory I haven't found a wa
    to turn off. It is probably not possible. They cause a contionu
    approximate write load of 10-20 KB/sec. I hope Microsoft adds an optio
    were logging can be customized and eventually turned off
    l-o-g-o, Feb 23, 2009
  19. rbd

    Camper Guest

    So how have you diagnosed that it is a Vista problem and not a hardware
    problem or caused by other software?

    Camper, Dec 2, 2009
  20. rbd

    EW Guest


    Your message about intense disk activity in Vista is dead on, but I doubt
    there's anything you can do about it. My Vista system works the hard drive
    much of the time, and I've got indexing turned off, no anti-virus scanning
    (except Defender), and no Norton crap installed. It's a mystery!

    My new Windows 7 system is much more kind to its hard drive. Vista is just
    Vista, and there's probably nothing you can do to it to behave like XP, for
    example. Yours is a common problem, and everyone with Vista experiences
    it -- they just don't realize it!

    EW, Dec 3, 2009
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